This entry is by way of a follow up to the album that Aoka just posted on our Create Culture page that we welcome all of you to view here.
In the midst of the Aoka Beta Experience in Ubatuba and Paraty (July 30-August 4, 2010), spirits ran high as a diversity of people gathered and discovered the region’s incredible highlights. On our journey, we tasted local culinary delights like quilombola salad and azul marinho; trekked through picturesque trails; jumped into crisp freshwater pools; meandered through agroforests; joyously danced to the Afro-Brazilian rhythm of the jongo; made baskets out of native grasses; and listened to the wise and animated tales of community elders.
We actively engaged the Afro-descendant and fisherfolk communities of Campinho, Sertão da Fazenda, and Camburi on this journey along with some contact with the fisherfolk of Vila Pincinguaba. Around 35 people participated in this gathering, which included community members (among them artisans, fishermen, guides, and farmers), state park representatives, members of the hospitality industry, entrepreneurs, as well as Aoka staff and facilitators. Each day, we discovered the cultural, socio-economic, and natural treasures of the region and discussed the most thrilling moments of what we experienced.
Why was this journey unique? We applied a methodology called Appreciative Inquiry to encourage participants to highlight, to dream, and design the best of what can be in terms of responsible tourism. The findings were then shared with all on the journey. In a region where the voices of local people often go unheard, this process inspired members of different communities to exchange local knowledge (such as medicinal plants on a trail) among them and share this wisdom with the visitors. These visitors, in turn, relayed their own unique windows to the world and their intentions for conscientious travel and connection with local people.
Out of this journey, the participants conjured their visions of what a sustainable tourism itinerary could look like through colorful maps, drawings and icons (with the use of universal Green Map iconography). From this creative space, they then committed to viable actions for solid itineraries in the region. Among the commitments included: the development of communication materials for each community; planning and technical support; environmental education; courses in marketing and foreign languages for community members; and linking community online information to relevant web and social networking sites.
Overall, this journey was a positive and generative step towards sustainable tourism in the region not only for Aoka, but for all the communities, local actors, and visitors involved. This meeting of hearts and minds instilled a shift in consciousness through a collaborative process of seeing the world through different eyes. We were privileged to embrace everyone "com muito carinho" who joined us on this illuminating experience!
We welcome you to view more details of this experience in this document Aoka Beta Experience_Ubatuba & Paraty 2010.doc as well as check out more information on the communities here.